In reading through the book Daniel, it never ceases to amaze me just how easy it would have been for Daniel to stay out of the lion’s den without ever neglecting his duty to his God.
The jealousy of Daniel’s rivals in the Babylonian government drove them to set a trap by getting the king to issue an edict decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man (other than the king himself) would be thrown into the lions’ den. Daniel was well aware of the plot his rivals had hatched against him; he could have continued in his devotion to God by praying privately while the decree was in effect. But Daniel chose not to alter his devotion in prayer, which he clearly considered to be his duty.
When Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)
Why do you think Daniel was so defiant in the face of the king’s decree? I believe the answer is found in the state of Daniel’s heart; he had moved so far beyond “duty” that his devotion in praying to God had become his delight. Daniel could have remained faithful to pray in his usual three-times-a-day devotion by simply praying in private; that would have satisfied his duty and his rivals would never have been able to charge him with violating the king’s decree. He could have completed the same activity—praying to God—in his prayer closet and not out in plain sight by his upstairs windows. But Daniel so delighted in his daily communion with God that he refused to alter his pattern of prayer, even in the face of bitter opposition.
Daniel’s delight in prayer drove him to disregard the pressure of persecution, knowing full well what it would cost him. His delight in praying to God made him defiant . . . even at the cost of being thrown into the lion’s den!
When duty and devotion turn to delight, we will refuse to bow to anything smaller than our God, regardless of the cost or circumstances we may face. Sure, Daniel could have continued his pattern of prayer without anyone 0knowing about it, but something greater was at stake here. Daniel’s rivals knew about his commitment to his God and his daily pattern of prayer. If Daniel began praying in private, he would have sent a message to his rivals that their plan of persecution was powerful enough to alter his prayer life or stop it altogether. Duty and devotion do not think this way; only delight does—even in the face of a den of lions!
So . . . what have you been delighting in lately? May we never see our opportunity to kneel before our heavenly Father as a duty or an obligation; may it be a source of true joy and strength for us! The author of Hebrews encourages us:
Since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14, 16).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!